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New mining safety project aims to make heavy industry safer

Looking for a way to make the heavy industry safer, Cambrian College and Sudbury software development company Sofvie Inc. are teaming up for a new project.

The idea is to combine a Sofvie integration system with an Internet of Things (IoT) device, which acts as an electronic emergency off switch, to prevent unqualified workers from using certain equipment or doing specific tasks they aren’t trained for.

"It will basically take an employee’s training records and link them through Sofvie’s database," said Cody Cacciotti, business developer for Cambrian research and development (R&D).

"So that if a worker or an employee does not have the prerequisite training to use a piece of equipment or a specific vehicle, it will not allow that vehicle or piece of equipment to engage."

It’s another tool to improve safety in sectors such as mining, forestry, construction and auto manufacturing.

"We’re always looking at building solutions to help productivity and safety come together," said Gus Minor, chief innovation officer with Sofvie Inc.

Minor said it's tough for supervisors to not only understand all the work that needs to be done but exactly who is and isn't authorized and trained.

"When you have a couple dozen or a few hundred pieces of equipment in your fleet, along with matching personnel, it becomes a challenging time to link up and sync up the work efficiently and to make sure that everybody goes home in the same condition or better than when they showed up to work," he said.

Minor said the goal is to have the product commercially available in two years. It comes with a $300,000 price tag, half of which came from Sofvie Inc., with the Government of Ontario providing the other half through the Ontario Centre for Innovation’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity program.

"We’ve done a lot of work to understanding the current operations statistics and the current modeling around equipment to make sure that we do preventative maintenance and so on," said Minor.

"So we’re very much looking forward to tapping into some of that engineering and to some of those IoT services so that our software solution can really integrate properly in the field and offer that ability to authorize a user or authorize an operator to start the piece of equipment or engage a piece of equipment based on his or her qualifications to do so."

The project will be based at Cambrian College’s Glencore Centre for Innovation.

"We’re going to be employing the skillset of our mechanical engineer, our software engineer as well as our electrical engineer and our electrical tech," said Cacciotti.

"Working under their tutelage will be a team of six to 12 students.”

It’s the second project Cambrian and Sofvie have worked on. Cacciotti said students benefit from the partnership.

"I think anytime you can increase the safety of a job in any heavy industry, it’s something that’s obviously taken very seriously," he said. Top Stories

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